May 27, 2014

Facebook Courts Direct Marketers Facebook Exchange, FBX the ads in the News Feed -- the primo real estate on Facebook -- is a year old and vying to become an indispensible partner to direct and CRM marketers. The pitch directly addresses the needs and anxieties of brands that want consumers to take action on social networks. Facebook, in a new deck circulating to advertisers, argues that they can find, mirror and more accurately target audiences, simultaneously access desktop and mobile users on a broad range of devices, leverage search and display ads across the Internet and do better ROI metrics. There is nothing subtle in Facebook’s move to curate, qualify and market audience segments. Absent is the long-standing claim that Facebook is strictly about relationships, sharing, engagement and saving the world. Most of the magic is a three-stage data mining process. By taking data from brands and combining it with demographic, psychographic and behavioral data from third party sources like Epsilon, Acxiom and Datalogic, marketers can get a tighter bead on likely buyers. Then by matching combined brand and outside data with Facebook profiles, the platform can deliver a specific message to large numbers of individuals meeting very narrow criteria eliminating waste and optimizing the likelihood that consumers will opt-in, share, sign-up, download or buy something. Like traditional publishers or broadcasters, Facebook claims to offer seamless and measurable targeting, reach and delivery. Facebook claims a 50% accuracy advantage over the average online campaign. This is the Holy Grail for direct marketers; maximum response with minimal waste across channels at efficient costs. For brands without a direct marketing or CRM infrastructure, Facebook potentially is a plug-and-play solution since brands can potentially find and reach their best customers, find more prospects that look like best customers or create new target segments virtually on the fly. But while Facebook will deliver a branded message to targeted users and tell you what percent of your database are on Facebook, they won’t share the details or trade data with brands. With massive reach and strong frequency, based on the fact that people check their newsfeed as much as fourteen times each day, Facebook is looking to take serious market share away from display advertising, search and email marketing. The social network’s leading mobile posture is a second strong direct response argument. With zillions accessing Facebook everyday on smartphones and tablets, a brand can reach their customers and prospects and finesse all the costly, complicated and confusing device, rendering and carrier issues with one partner. Tight targeting and mobile access when combined with links to branded websites, pixel tracking for retargeting and internal databases, gives a brand continuous exposure to people who have shown any sign of interest. This is, depending on your perspective, is either super-targeting or super-stalking. Either way, research shows that it delivers more, faster response. It also explains how that pair of shoes you looked at on Zappos follow you around the Internet and appear on your Facebook page. Newsfeed or Timeline units, a 154x154 pixel image and several lines of copy, were created precisely to enable precision targeting and pixel tracking to enable retargeting on Facebook and across the web. Consumers can like, share and comment on FBX ads, so virility is baked in. My clients using these units are reporting strong cost effective results. And even though many have been extorted into buying ads since Facebook choked off access to the fans they accumulated by manipulating the Edgerank algorithm, the guys paying the bills now can find out how many fans, followers or likers are actually buying products. Facebook is aggressively addressing direct marketing fundamentals and focusing on critical ROI concerns. Many of their social network peers are following suit. It will be fascinating to see how and how quickly traditional direct response partners respond. Stay tuned. It’s about to get very interesting.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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